Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Same reasons one customizes their car!
Published on September 11, 2003 By Draginol In Personal Computing

See a video of this desktop in action

Why? What's wrong with the default Windows look? That's the question I sometimes get from friends and family. For the life of them, they don't understand why anyone would spend the time, let alone money, to customize Windows. I often get a look of benevolent patronization when I inform them that our software has slightly over 6 million users or that gets nearly 2 million unique visitors each month. "Sure you do...sure you do..."

For me, and millions of other people, the question about customizing Windows is like asking why doesn't everyone drive the same car? Imagine if every car was a black Motel T. Forget how it might be used, forget about different tastes, needs, and priorities, all cars are black Model Ts.

"Well that's different.." No it's not. In fact, there is less reason to customize the typical car than there is the typical computer. Nearly everyone who buys a car is using it for only a handful of different reasons (mostly just driving to work).  I have plenty of neighbors with big old SUVs that drive around mostly empty. What does a Suburban house wife need with 4 wheel drive? When was the last time she went off road?  What's the point in buying a car that can go 150 mph when the speed limit tops out at around half that? And how much time does the average person spend in their car? An hour a day? 90 minutes tops?

Now contrast all that to personal computers. Millions of people spend 8 hours a day in front of their computers. Moreover, they do vastly different things with their machines.  An accountant is using their computer in a totally different way than say an IT manager. Or how about a sales person versus a plant supervisor? Or a graphics designer compared to a journalist. And then there's the power user. The person who uses their PC as a tool to do a hundred different things and has very little time to do it.

The reasons to customize your computer are as varied as the reasons why people buy different types of cars.  Maybe they want to improve their productivity so they get Object Desktop to mold Windows to be able to do the things they do very quickly.  For instance, I have every location I regularly visit on the Internet set up with a hot key via Keyboard Launchpad.  So when I want to get to my admin pages on I just hit Ctrl-Alt-S.  I have every canned reply and sig set up with Ctrl-Shift-# (1, 2, 3, 4, and so on).  I use DesktopX for monitoring various on-line admin issues like the store status, store revenue updated every hour, desktop calendars, and to simply make my environment look nicer.  WindowBlinds is much the same way. I use it to make my desktop nicer to look at but I also use it because I can set the right click on the title bar to minimize the window. That alone makes it compelling as a productivity helper.

When I'm deep into programming, my desktop gets very weird looking. That's when I really get into ObjectBar. I create a bar that has my entire project and everything I might need with it put up as a bar that appears when I move my mouse over on the right of the screen. With it, I can quickly get to particular files and programs and eliminate the menu bar of many programs giving me more screen space.

Using ObjectBar to remove the menu bar from apps to have it floating. When I'm really busy I do this and have the hot key Ctrl-Shift-Z bring it up. So regardless of what I'm doing, I can hit Ctrl-Shift-Z and the app's menu will show up wherever I have the mouse. Note: This isn't for everyone as some programs don't really use menus but instead do toolbars but it works well on the apps I use.

Anyone who's ever looked at the DesktopX theme section or Litestep theme section on can see how people transform their machines in all sorts of different ways. It's a matter of taste and it's a matter of molding the machine to work for you rather than the other way around.

For me, if customizing my machine can save me 10 minutes a day in productivity (and sometimes it's more than that) then I'm saving a lot of time in a given year. And I'm doing it with style in the meantime. People who rely strictly on themes and such don't really see the full story. Sometimes people not into this will look at a screenshot or something and all they can see is the eye candy. A lot of the really good stuff can't really be shown in a screenshot.  And obviously the cooler and more specific you get, the more you will have to learn on your own (for instance, the ObjectBar thing I showed is probably only in use by a few hundred people because most people haven't put together the menu removing feature with the hot key to bring it up feature).

So why customize your computer? For me, I believe it's the better way to get work and play done on the computer.



Comments (Page 2)
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on Apr 07, 2005
on Jun 26, 2005
why thay ask eh? you ever tell them you do it couse you like it or just couse its diff.....or cool? thats what i would say it dont matter what thay think anyway, every one can do as thay see fit and it is cooler and like menny i get sick of lookin at the same colors and stuff all the time. as for the makin shit faster im not in to all that couse my pc is for play and what not.. but if i used like you hell ya ya i could see how it would be faster. anyway keep up the good work and peace out
on Nov 19, 2005
Another video. Great. Need to make 1 myself one day. Thanks for the work incl. the article + good illustrations.
on Mar 23, 2006
Customization for productivity is one thing, but getting out of hand with it will only make you useless on another machine... If you want to get around Windows faster, learn the shortcut keys and filenames so you can go Win-R, "calc", [enter] and open the calculator...that's just an example, and this example is FAST, plus it works on ALL machines.
on May 01, 2006
I like what you do, continue this way.
on May 03, 2006
Thanks for the video and article .

customizing is really addictive .

anyone know what the style of the white task bar is and where i can get it .

on Jul 31, 2006
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